• Allison Lee Pillinger Choi

Soft Bigotry of Anti-Racism vs. Inherent Dignity in Each Individual

“The antidote to racism is not anti-racism. It is a philosophy of humanism that celebrates and uplifts the inherent dignity in each individual.“ -Ian Rowe, 1776 Unites



Do you have high expectations for your kid? Do you promote a set of standards for your kid? Don’t we all?! Well if we are to hold high standards of values such as dignity, respect, and education, examining how we talk to our kids about hot button topics, like race, is integral to the conversation. With the newly pervasive “anti-racist” tone taking over the classroom, more parents and educators are publicly pushing back. Their case: perspectives of critical race theory, and its anti-racist offshoots, actually lead to setting low expectations -- particularly for the very students in need of uplifting. Think otherwise, or just curious to understand the current racial zeitgeist from another perspective? Hear us out. . .


Father, educator, and policy scholar Ian Rowe weighs in on anti-racism ideology, warning that “‘anti-racist’ policies are becoming the unintended, modern day version of the soft bigotry of low expectations.” Once a rallying cry popular among radical academic professors and grassroots woke activists, “anti-racism” and “critical race theory” are now central in many of the nation’s K-12 schools, workplaces, sports, entertainment, and more. Upon a look beneath the anti-racist label, the soft bigotry of anti-racism reveals the hard truth of unintended consequences.


In his op-ed, The soft bigotry of anti-racist expectations is damaging to Black and white kids alike, Ian not only addresses the destructive consequences of “anti-racism,” but also the real solutions to racism and problems associated with such hate:


“These educators are reinforcing the flawed belief that every racial disparity must be due to white supremacy and systemic racism, regardless of other factors like declines in stable families or lack of school choice, which may play a far more powerful role in impeding the development of children of all races.”


He adds, “the antidote to inequity is not diminished expectations for all. It is equal opportunity, and a belief in each person’s capacity for upward mobility, no matter their race, ethnicity or skin color.”


Further, he reminds us:

“The American dream is premised on the idea that a young person can become an agent of her or his own destiny. This can only happen if vital mediating institutions like strong families, schools and faith-based organizations demand excellence, and shape the character of this rising generation to build self-sufficiency and resilience. At this moment a growing number of young people are being led to believe that structural barriers around race, class and gender have rigged the system against them, and that they are powerless to compete at the highest level because of immutable characteristics like their race.“


Ian is not the only one sounding the alarm on this cult-like ideology in this op-ed and his related works (see his essay on how The 1619 Project perpetuates the soft bigotry of low expectations). Last year, Primerrily published a piece about this mom’s personal account of her bi-racial children’s experience in a suburban private school embracing “anti-racist” pedagogy.


More recently, a NYC private school received an open letter from a largely anonymous group of “lovingly concerned” parents compassionately yet unequivocally pushing back against the school’s anti-racist curriculum takeover. The letter also addresses anti-racism’s other inherent problem: that non-conformists and dissenters prefer to self-censor or remain anonymous in fear of private backlash or public shaming from their schools, workplaces, or other institutions.


Yours truly, in her own small but present way, is contributing to the conversation. To my suburban public school district, I wrote this letter. I was motivated by the aforementioned bold voices, as well as by my personal perspective and parenting philosophies (not to mention, my kids’ well-being and sense of self). Primerrily hopes this letter, along with all the other dissenting voices of reason and dignity, offers you encouragement to add to the collective sentiment among a silent/silenced majority. We also hope these ideas inspire your own ways and words to effectively communicate your concerns — personal, philosophical, and/or societal.